Guest poem submitted by R. Lakshminarainan:
(Poem #1472) In A Disused Graveyard
The living come with grassy tread To read the gravestones on the hill; The graveyard draws the living still, But never anymore the dead. The verses in it say and say: "The ones who living come today To read the stones and go away Tomorrow dead will come to stay." So sure of death the marbles rhyme, Yet can't help marking all the time How no one dead will seem to come. What is it men are shrinking from? It would be easy to be clever And tell the stones: Men hate to die And have stopped dying now forever. I think they would believe the lie.
Frost is quite indisputably the master of images. I can still remember the intense reverie of meaning I experienced, when I first read this poem. We have heard and heard too much, about death - its ultimacy, its indefatigability and the utter hopelessness. We have heard a few say how one must succumb to it with little resistance, and another - how one must "rage against it." In all its varied essences and flavours, death stands apart with one single unchanging attribute - the finality. Which is why these fifteen lines shine stark in significance. Frost in a single image, hooks the finality of images of death in one big question mark, where neither the mortal men nor the waiting grave will achieve the final victory. The graveyard, the elemental metaphor for a fullstop, has brimmed without space, and now the roles are reversed. Though the living still come and visit loved ones, the graveyard will never again see them dead. The eternal wisdom in what the grave takes pride in uttering to generations of men - "The ones who living come today/ To read the stones and go away/ Tomorrow dead will come to stay." is shattered. The certitude of the marble grounds is now jarring because, neither the graveyard nor the wisdom has escaped what it celebrates so tirelessly - death itself. And to the nether-land that wonders in shrouting suspicion, "What hate men in me? Why don't they come to my laps anymore?" one might just say "Men hate to die. And they will not anymore." As one tries to explain and the other to believe in this mock-hypothesis, is not Death and all its allied emotions and images failed metaphors? Do we really see Death and does wisdom really dawn or are we merely fooling ourselves like the graveyard? R. Lakshminarainan.